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Rich Powell, CEO of nuclear champion ClearPath, heads to CEBA

Illustration of a jigsaw puzzle with pictures of different energy facilities

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Rich Powell, the longtime CEO of nuclear energy champion ClearPath, is leaving the organization to lead the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance, a trade group that includes the biggest tech companies in the U.S.

Why it matters: Powell will be leading an organization that promises to be at the center of political fights over America's energy transition.

Catch up fast: ClearPath was launched in 2013 by tech founder and conservative donor Jay Faison.

  • The organization generally advocates for low-carbon energy. It's tech-agnostic, but it has long advocated for nuclear energy and built particular credibility among centrist and conservative-leaning politicians and groups.

The latest: Powell is departing ClearPath after 10 years to become CEO of the Clean Energy Buyers Alliance.

  • D.C.-based CEBA has two arms: the Clean Energy Buyers Association, a trade group chaired by Google senior director Michael Terrell, and the Clean Energy Buyers Institute, which describes itself as a research nonprofit.

Between the lines: Powell is taking over the alliance as it's transformed almost overnight from a niche group of tech companies to potentially one of the most influential organizations in American energy politics.

  • Association members in addition to Google include Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, the very companies whose AI data centers have unleashed a surge in new electricity demand that's straining America's energy grids.
  • That demand has upended years of flat energy growth, posing challenging questions for how tech companies will meet their energy needs and their climate goals — and what roles the broader energy grid will play.

Of note: Nuclear energy is broadly seen as an answer to this question, providing round-the-clock emissions-free energy, though high construction costs and public safety concerns remain a challenge.

The fine print: Powell is succeeding interim CEO Kevin Hagen, who took on the role following the departure of Miranda Ballentine last September.

  • Powell will remain on ClearPath's governance and advisory boards. ClearPath chief strategy officer Jeremy Harrell was named the organization's new CEO.
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